The Keeping Room

Days before the collapse of the Confederacy, two grown sisters, left to tend the family farm when their brother and father enlisted, band together with their female slave to fight off the sexual advances of two Union scouts who arrive in town with liquor and destruction on their minds. Writer Julia Hart and director Daniel Barber (who made his feature debut with the revenge thriller Harry Brown) develop the women’s relationships at a careful, steady pace, giving them time to bond; this is essential since they must learn to trust and respect each other to survive. Their wartime situation is one frequently portrayed in male-centered films, so it’s fitting that the elder daughter (Brit Marling) says a woman in wartime must “learn to be a man instead of a wife.”